Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
SOUTH MADE his hazardous contract on this deal but only by relying upon a defensive error. Your problem is to decide whether he had had a genuine chance of success.

South opened 1 no-trumps (16-18 points) and North launched immediately into an ace enquiry with Four Clubs in one of those rare situations where Gerber has some utility. On hearing Four Spades (showing two aces), he bid Six Clubs but, as this was in a pairs competition, South converted to 6 no-trumps which was passed out.

This proved a dubious move when West led !K. It was clear that Six Clubs would have been easy on any lead, but the heart lead attacked South's entry before the diamonds could be unblocked. In practice declarer held off, leaving West to decide which ace it was that the bidding had shown his partner to hold. He guessed wrongly when he tried a diamond and, with a sigh of relief, declarer claimed.

Just suppose that South had won the first trick and had reeled off eight rounds of clubs. Both defenders are in difficulties. Try, for example, the effect of East keeping 4A and a heart and coming down to two diamonds. His partner, now forced to keep three diamonds, has to discard his last spade to keep !Q. Now declarer cashes #K and exits with a heart - then he takes the last two tricks with #AQ.

If, instead, the defenders arrange for East to keep three diamonds and 4A (having relinquished his last heart) then cashing DK and exiting with a spade has the same effect - this time, though, it is East who suffers. It would have been a classic example of the so-called "stepping-stone squeeze".

Game all; dealer South


49 2

!9 4


2A K Q J 8 7 6 5

West East

46 5 4 3 4A 10 8 7

!K Q 10 7 3 !6 5 2

#10 8 6 5 #J 9 4 2

2none 210 9


4K Q J

!A J 8

#A Q 7 3

24 3 2